Interview for JAZZ.PT July 2008
main jazz magazine in Portugal
The new talent of the Portuguese jazz guitar has shown his abilities in different projects as a sideman, with a rare versatility. Being such a creative musician, he also puts effort in his own music, as we can hear on this new album ¨Rosa-Shock¨(Tone of a Pitch), to be released in a concert at ¨Jazz.PT Festival¨.
André plays guitar since he´s nine years old. “I spent all my childhood listening to my parents records like The Doors, or the The Beatles. I would pretend I was playing along with a beaten stringless old guitar. I ended up in a music school, wanting to pickup the drums but they only had guitar lessons." Eventually, he was drawn to Jazz. “I always like the Blues by Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, B.B. King. My first improvisations were at 13 under the lessons of Pedro Dòrey. After that I got my first senses of harmony, and learned some standards. I still remember the first jazz records I listen more carefully: Dave Brubeck with Paul Desmond, Magico by Charlie Haden, Egberto Gismonti and Jan Garbarek. Two years later, I took lessons with Mario Delgado, and that was a defining period to solidify the knowledge I had gained. “
In Matos´ evolution it was important to move to Boston to enroll at the famous Berklee College of Music. “I went to the States at a young age, with a good scholarship. I grew up a lot and very rapidly, musically and also personally. In 2006, I earned another scholarship to New England Conservatory also in Boston, where I did my Master´s."
In terms of influences, Matos shows an amplitude of taste very rare these days: “I try to have a global perspective at Jazz history. I listen to from Jabbo Smith, a contemporary trumpetist of Louis Armstrong, to Sun Ra´s long discography, to all music by the AACM, or to the Bebop treatises which are Tommy Flanagan´s first albums as a leader, to Ornette Coleman. “ In terms of favorite musicians, Matos again, is clear: “I listen the most to Keith Jarrett, specially the American Quartet, with Paul Motian and Charlie Haden, who are two of my favorite musicians of all time. I like drummers like Sunny Murray and Jack De Johnette. I love pianist Paul Bley, specially the albums with Steve Swallow and Jimmy Giuffre. I´m also tuned to contemporary composers like Ligeti, Schnitke, Part, Schoenberg, Webern, Stravinsky."
In respect to guitarists, André Matos still has a large spectrum of influences: “Always Jim Hall, but I try to listen to them all, from the 1910´s and 20´s. I love Mundell Lowe with Carmen McRae on the album ¨Bittersweet¨. Joe Pass is important. I like the music of Kurt Rosenwinkel and Ben Monder. I´m obsessed with Derek Bailey´s ballad album."
Matos edited his first album “Small Worlds" (2005) by the famous spanish label Fresh Sound New Talent: “It was important to have a CD to get gigs, a lot a people heard my name even if they didn´t listen to the record. It was difficult to keep that group together. I only play with Demian Cabaud and Leo Genovese these days. It was an interesting group, inexperienced but fun. I liked what came out of that."
The new CD, ¨Rosa-Shock¨, involves new ideas: “After going back to Boston in 2006, I was already looking for something different in my music. The influence of teachers like Frank Carlberg, Danilo Perez and George Garzone was defining in the search for new colors in compositional terms. My music got a little darker but also more open for improvisation. Another important element was including the voice of Sara Serpa. The voice comes in in spite of the saxophone. I recorded also some tunes in trio, a format that I like to explore more and more. And lastly I wanted to have Albert Sanz, who is a poet of the piano. I like musicians that ¨play¨ poetry."
And, why now the release on a Portuguese and smaller label, TOAP? “ In my opinion, the future of music and jazz, is on the smaller labels and even on self-releasing efforts. Many musicians around the world are turning to those formats, instead of relying on major labels who can whatever they want to the musician. In the other hand, TOAP, is creating a strong catalogue , diverse but very consistent and respected. It is also important that the musician has proximate relationship to the label in order to participate fully in the edition process of the work."
André Matos has also been collaborating on other musicians projects, very distinct from each other. One of them is ¨Communion¨, a group led by Joao Lencastre: “It was nice to explore a repertoire that, although compreends many different styles and periods, was unified by a common language. We created surprising spaces and it was amazing to share the stage with the genius of Bill Carrothers. “
He is also part of the group ¨Mikado Lab¨, led by Marco Franco. “With them, I feel the garage band spirit. We created an identity, a sound. When I´m in the States, they perform in trio, but when I come back, it´s just like we played the day before."
Matos also collaborates with vocalist Sara Serpa: “Sara is my partner and she is the person who I feel closer artistically. We did the Masters at NEC together. She improved a lot in a very short time and has very original musical ideas. Her music is a great influence. With her quintet, she put together a group of people with very strong musical personalities, but where the sum of all parts is more important and relevant. We recorded an album which will come out soon."
The musician will soon move from Boston to New York. ¨It is kind of an adventure. There are some concerts with Sara´s band already scheduled. I also want to find the ideal rhythm section to start my own band there. I know a lot of people there.¨ In what concerns a possibly new album, nothing is defined, but there´s a wish. ¨I have some ideas, but I want to develop them a bit more. Also, I want to keep playing with Demian and Alexandre, as the main frame for my music.¨
What are André Matos´ larger goals as a musician, then? ¨I want at all moments to be whole as a person and as a musician. I want to be generous to the musicians I play with, but still, maintain a strong and clear musical presence. It´s my wish to play the NOW. I speak of the exact moment of creation, on stage, but also of the moments by yourself at home, practicing. On a more esoteric note, it´s about channeling the cosmic energy as directly as possible, without filters of ego, without the rubbish we accumulate on our body and spirit.¨ Matos is promising creative and original music. If that promise is met, we´ll have plenty.
by Nuno Catarino